The Bard of Now – A guest blog by Dawn Glover

In acting school I quickly discovered that Shakespeare performed puts me to sleep. There I said it. Give me Williams, give me Shepard, give me Shanely, give me Howe and Eno, just don’t give me blank verse. While my fellow grads would grapple and sweat over who was going to get to play Lady M, I was crossing my fingers to do my final grad school performance in the experimental studio bringing to life a Caryl Churchill character.  It’s not that I hate performing Shakespeare (in fact two of my most life changing roles have been thanks to Will) it is just that I have always held the opinion that our dearly departed Bard deserved more then to have his shows dressed up in modern clothing and re-imagined in an airport. “Out, out damned spot” is the same uttered at Terminal A as it is in a mid-evil bedchamber. However, at the risk of sounding life a fan girl, I left The Baement Theatre with my mind blown by Hurst’s performance in “No Holds Bard”. Not only was he bringing to life four of Shakespeare’s more tragic hero’s (or anti-heroes) but he was doing it in a way that had me laughing at the profound hilarity of the script, marvelling at the athleticism in his performance, and literally leaning forward in my seat to drink in the way he delivered the moments of blank verse. I am pretty sure that I could listen to Michael Hurst read the whole of Shakespeare’s cannon and then hand him “Faust” and ask him to read that too (and for me reading Goeth is the equivalent of taking a sleeping pill). Here’s the thing: What Hurst, Natalie Medlock, and Dan Musgrove did with “No Holds Bard,” is what this theatre nerd thinks should happen with Shakespeare more often. Shakespeare was brilliant; there is no arguing that. I mean how do you argue the brilliance of a man who created hundreds of words that we use in the English vocabulary? He wrote rich and wonderful characters that many actors love to play because hitting the right moment with a Shakespeare character is like the acting equivalent of an orgasm. But for many modern audience members who venture out to a Shakespeare play for the sake of feeling “cultured” the language (unless the actor is a master like Hurst, and let’s face it many think they are but aren’t) is alienating. While the performers are in the throws of “to be or not to be” the audience is usually squirming in their seats thinking, “to get up at 7am or not get up at 7am? “ I have this theory that “The Bard” roles over in his grave every time a theatre does one of his shows exactly how he would have done it in the Elizabethan period. Shakespeare was innovative! He was in tune with his times! If William Shakespeare were alive today he would find a way for his work to reach the masses. Not just the PHD’s, wanna’ be culture snobs, and actors, but the care takers, waiters, and stay at home moms of the year 2013.  Last week I saw a Shakespeare piece for us, for who humanity is now, and I loved it. I hope to see more theatre artists taking their passion for Shakespeare, and finding a way to translate it for the audiences we have right now and the ones that we will have “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…”
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